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9th Circuit: Travel ban in effect except for close family members

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled that much of President Trump's latest travel ban can legally go into effect. That said, it cannot be applied to people who have close family members in the U.S., or to those with bona fide relationships with an American entity.

The latest version of the travel ban applies to people coming from eight countries that have been deemed to have inadequate vetting practices for travelers to the U.S. Those countries are Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Chad, Venezuela and North Korea.

As we've discussed on this blog before, the travel ban does not apply to U.S. citizens, even those with dual citizenship, lawful permanent residents of the U.S., refugees already approved for entry, or anyone who is already in the States with a valid visa.

The 9th Circuit made clear that, per the U.S. Supreme Court's emergency clarification of the previous ban, the new ban cannot apply to people with close family members who are U.S. citizens or green card holders. It also cannot apply to people with "bona fide" relationships with U.S. entities.

Close family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents were already known to include:

  • Spouses
  • Parents, stepparents and parents-in-law
  • Children, step-children, daughters-in-law and sons-in-law
  • Whole and half-siblings

In its recent ruling, the 9th Circuit specifically said that close family members also include:

  • Grandparents and grandchildren
  • Brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law
  • Aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews
  • Cousins

A bona fide relationship with a U.S. entity is any legitimate formal relationship

The ban also does not apply to anyone with a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with an entity in the U.S. While the court did not define what entities count, it did clarify that a bona fide relationship is one that is "formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading [the travel ban]."

Opponents of the travel ban argue that it is discriminatory

The 9th Circuit's ruling came in response to a case heard by a federal district court in Hawaii. In that case, the plaintiffs had argued that the ban -- even the latest version -- is directed at Muslims and is unconstitutionally discriminatory based on religion and national origin.

The 9th Circuit did not overturn the ban as it had the previous version. Instead, it allowed many of its provisions to go into effect. However, it found the plaintiffs' arguments convincing enough to limit the effect of the ban on those with close ties to the U.S.

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